Sheriff’s Office to crack down on distracted drivers

Linn County Sheriff Jim Yon wants the public to remember that distracted driving is not only unlawful, but dangerous, as his department conducts an enforcement effort targeting such behavior this week.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Linn County Deputies will be participating in a nationwide enforcement effort April 8-15.  Using Oregon Department of Transportation grant funds, additional deputies will be on the road looking for distracted drivers.

Although cell phone use often comes to mind when talking about distracted driving, it can occur whenever a driver voluntarily diverts attention to something not related to driving that uses the driver’s eyes, ears, or hands.  There are four types of driver distraction:

– Visual — looking at something other than the road

– Auditory — hearing something not related to driving

– Manual — manipulating something other than the wheel

– Cognitive — thinking about something other than driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 2013-2017, there were 12,006 crashes resulting in 95 fatalities and 18,429 injuries caused by a distracted driving in Oregon (in all age groups).  There were 7,208 convictions in 2017 for Using a Mobile Electronic Device.

Over the years, millennials have become some of the biggest texting-while-driving offenders, also using their cell phones to talk and to scroll through social media while behind the wheel. According to NHTSA, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.

 “Every day, we ticket drivers who haven’t gotten the message that using their cell phones while they drive is illegal, and puts everyone else on the road at risk,” Yon said.  

“We all know the dangers associated with distracted driving.  Whether it’s eating and drinking behind the wheel, using GPS, talking to other vehicle passengers, or using the cell phone, it’s all dangerous when you’re driving.  We are determined to impress upon these drivers:  

“Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.” 

If you are convicted of Operating Motor Vehicle While Using Mobile Electronic Device, you can face a penalty of anywhere from $265 to time in jail and fines of over $2,000.  Remember, Yon said, “U DRIVE, U TEXT, U PAY.”